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The world's most unusual TV business pitches

Shows like Shark Tank and Dragons' Den have given airtime to entrepreneurs with the most unusual ideas imaginable from the absolute genius to the downright bizarre, and while some of these quirky concepts have gone nowhere, others have won serious investment cash and become overnight sensations.


By Daniel Coughlin, Lovemoney

Weird and wonderful ideas from around the globe


Shows such as Shark Tank and Dragons' Den have given airtime to entrepreneurs with the most unusual ideas imaginable from the absolute genius to the downright bizarre, and while some of these quirky concepts have gone nowhere, others have won serious investment cash and become overnight sensations.


Shark Tank USA: LICKI Brush


Dubbed "the weirdest product in Shark Tank history," and there have been plenty of oddball ideas pitched as you will see, LICKI Brush is a plastic gizmo that lets owners lick their cats. Yes, really. One of two products presented by Tara and Jason O'Mara in season eight, the bizarre brush failed to impress the incredulous Sharks, and the kooky couple, who were after $300,000 for 15% equity, walked away with no deal.


Dragons' Den, UK: SuperKneeS


Across the Atlantic, the UK's Dragons' Den has seen its fair share of wacky ideas as well. First up is SuperKneeS. Presented by Stipan Saulich in season two, these strap-on roller skates enable users to whizz around from chore to chore. On their knees. As you might expect, Saulich, who didn't even get to speak, was laughed off the show but his peculiar invention did enjoy modest success for a time in places as far afield as Spain and the Ukraine.


Shark Tank, Australia: Donugs


Donugs has got to be one of the craziest, not to mention yummiest, concepts to feature on the Australian version of Shark Tank. A chicken nugget crossed with a doughnut, the sinful snack, which was pitched in season four, landed its inventors Crag Carrick and Rachel Dutton a $70,000 investment from Shark Naomi Simson in exchange for 25% of the business. We want one now.


Dragons' Den, Canada: Aurora Castle Theme Park


The Canadian Dragons' Den show hasn't been lacking in outlandish pitches either. Cue Aurora Castle Theme Park. Showcased in season four by eccentric entrepreneur Jeffrey Tradburks, who hoped to get started with a $75,000 investment, the crazy spaceship-shaped theme park would have cost over a billion dollars to build. Needless to say, the Dragons were all “oot."


Dans l'œil du dragon, Canada: Astropet


Staying in Canada, Québec's Dans l'œil du dragon ('In the Eye of the Dragon') gives the English language version a run for its money in the weird pitches stakes. For instance, Astropet was a website presented by Jérôme Matas in the first season that offers horoscopes for cats and dogs. Described by Dragon Gaétan Frigon as the most ridiculous pitch he'd ever seen, the idea was panned and Matas left with nothing.


Shark Tank, USA: RokBlok


Spelling the end for the record player, former Apple creative Logan Riley brought the house down when he pitched his RokBlok wireless portable vinyl player, a world first and the smallest ever invented, on season nine of the show. The size of a matchbox, the wooden contraption can be placed on any record et voilà. Riley cashed in with a $500,000 investment from Robert Herjavec for 100% of the company and a royalties deal of $5 per unit sold.


Den D, Czech Republic: Humanic Houses


Curious concepts have also abounded on Den D, the Czech version of Dragons' Den. Twins Michal and Lubomir provided one of the highlights of season four when they presented Humanic Houses. The brothers were seeking hard cash for their homes with human faces idea, but their amateurish pitch and the sloppily painted model they hobbled together failed to wow the hard-nosed Dragons, who had trouble keeping a straight face.


Die Höhle der Löwen, Germany: HappyPo


Out of all the ideas pitched on Germany's Die Höhle der Löwen ('The Lion's Cave'), HappyPo is definitely the most unusual. On first inspection the gadget looks like an electric toothbrush or oral irrigator but it is in fact a portable mini bidet. The electricity-free device is an eco-friendly way to cut down on toilet paper use according to inventors Oliver Elsoud and Frank Schmischke, who left the show with a $135,000 investment in exchange for 25% of their business.


Shark Tank, USA: Wake 'N Bacon


An especially zany idea that appeared on America's Shark Tank, Wake N Bacon is a quirky alarm clock that rouses you from your slumber with the smell of sizzling bacon. Setting the alarm entails slotting in a slice of raw bacon, which is cooked to crispy perfection at the allotted time. Unsurprisingly, the piggy-shaped gizmo, which featured in season two, was deemed crazy by the Sharks, and inventor Matty Sallin left with zero investment cash.


Shark Tank, USA: UroClub


Another innovative, or crazy, toilet solution, UroClub was presented in season one to the Sharks, who pretty much giggled their way through the entire pitch. The brainchild of Florida urologist Dr. Floyd Seskin, UroClub is a portable urinal disguised as a 7-iron golf club that male golfers can pee into mid-game. Unlike the Fenis, UroClub wasn't completely laughed off the show and Dr. Seskin scored a $25,000 investment for 75% equity courtesy of Kevin Harrington.


Dragons' Den, UK: Tingotang


How's this for a cringy idea? A range of jewelry for unattached people to signal their single status. Clare Sagar and Gill Kirtland's Tingotang line, which was pitched in season five, met with derision from the Dragons, who described it as “embarrassing” and “ludicrous." The duo failed to secure the $130,000 investment they asked for and left the show red-faced.


Shark Tank, USA: The Skinny Mirror


Taking a concave mirror you'd expect to see in a fairground fun house, Belinda Jasmine created The Skinny Mirror, which makes anyone looking in it appear up to 10 pounds thinner. Jasmine pitched it to the Sharks in season eight and asked for $200,000 in exchange for a 20% stake, but her idea was lambasted for deceiving people and perpetuating unrealistic body standards.


Dragons' Den, UK: DriveSafe Glove


Plenty of terrible ideas have been pitched on the UK's Dragons' Den show, but the worst has to be season four's DriveSafe Glove, a plain white glove that British motorists abroad would wear on the right hand to remind them to drive on the correct side of the road. Unbelievably, inventor (and we use that term loosely) Mike Carr asked for $130,000 but of course left empty-handed.


Shark Tank, Australia: 2Shu


Billed as “the most Aussie invention ever," 2Shu is a clever piece of footwear that transforms from a flip-flop (or thong as it's known locally) to a closed-toe shoe in seconds. Dreamt up by surfer Matthew Gillett, who wanted $105,000 for 40% of the business, the shoe featured in season two. Shark Janine Allis loved the concept and Gillett left the show with a plum investment.


Shark Tank, USA: Delighted By Hummus


Who knew sweetened hummus could be so delectable? The savory vegan, gluten-free and non-dairy chickpea-based dip was given a sugary makeover by Makenzie Marzluff and presented to the bemused Sharks in season nine. Mark Cuban was blown away by the range's four flavors – Snickerdoodle, Vanilla Bean, Brownie Batter and Choc-O-Mint – and invested $600,000 in exchange for 25% equity.


Den D, Czech Republic: Bezpečný Domov


Amateur inventor Patrik Večeřa failed when he pitched his Bezpečný Domov ('Safe Home') idea to the Czech Dragons in season four. The mechanical dome fits over buildings to supposedly protect them from tornadoes and hurricanes, but Večeřa, who has no experience in engineering, had no clue whether it would actually work and the idea was destroyed by the show's venture capitalists.


Shark Tank, USA: CitiKitty


Just the thing for cat owners who are grossed out by stinky litter trays, CitiKitty is a kit that trains your feline friend to use the toilet instead – and it actually works. Pitched by Rebecca Rescate in season two, the pussy potty-training kit was labeled “disgusting” and “crazy” by Shark Kevin O'Leary, but Rescate managed to strike a deal with Kevin Harrington, and her product has gone on to gross more than $8 million.


Dragons' Den, Ireland: Hidbin


Parked outside millions of homes, the ubiquitous garbage can is an eyesore that many people wish they could hide. Luckily, landscape gardener Mark O'Loughlin has the solution. His Hidbin invention turns it into a pretty-looking hedge. The product proved a winner with the Irish Dragons in season two and O'Loughlin secured an investment of $56,000 for 40% of the business.


Shark Tank, USA: Baker's Edge


For many people, the best part of a fudge brownie or lasagna is the crispy edge. Enter Baker's Edge. A simple but brilliant idea, the pan is designed to maximize the corners, making for lots of crispy edges. The pan was pitched by inventor Matthew Griffin and his wife Emily in season five but, incredibly, they didn't bag a deal. Still, their product has sold like hot (crispy) cakes ever since.


Dans l'œil du dragon, Canada: Big Boy Cage Mobile


This outré invention for pet owners with dogs that are too big to fit in their vehicle was pitched by Gatineau innovator Julien Venne in the first season of the Québecois show. The funny cage attaches to the back of a car or van, and has enough space for two extra-large canines. Venne's idea, which is actually pretty cool, unfortunately didn't appeal to the Dragons and he left sans investment.


Shark Tank, USA: Squirrel Boss


Like a Taser for bird food-stealing critters, Squirrel Boss is a feeder fitted with a harmless static charge that the user activates with a remote control to zap the offending rodent and send it on its way. Providing hours of evil fun for slightly sadistic bird-lovers, the gadget was pitched by Michael DeSanti on season four but didn't attract a deal. Nevertheless, numerous units of the squirrel-proof invention have since been sold.


Shark Tank, Australia: iKiFit


An odd learning program for kids based around an even odder orange stick, iKiFit was created by Kim Macrae. The hapless entrepreneur poured in $560,000 to develop it, but had only made $35,000 from his brainwave when he braved the Australian Shark Tank in season three. Macrae failed dismally in winning over the Sharks, who found the pitch “awkward” and “uncomfortable."


Shark Tank, USA: Cougar Lifestyle Shot


The Sharks really didn't know what to make of Ryan Custer's energy shot drink aimed at middle-age women eager to date younger men, which featured in season three. As might be expected, Barbara Corcoran was least impressed by the sexist concoction that she concluded “tastes like chalk," and Custer left without getting the desired $150,000 backing in exchange for 30% of his business.


Dragons' Den, Canada: Cereal Pants


Shea Kewin rocked up to the Canadian Dragons' Den show in season nine to pitch his snack-friendly sweatpants that are kitted out with an inflatable bowl for ultra-lazy munching. Kewin asked for $66,000 in exchange for 15% equity, but his jokey sweatpants were roundly dismissed by the Dragons, despite their obvious novelty appeal.


Shark Tank, USA: DrumPants


Another product that turns a humble pair of trousers into something altogether more awesome, DrumPants is a wearable sensor that attaches to the piece of clothing, transforming it into a drum kit that can play up to 100 sounds. Inventors Lei Yu and Tyler Freeman pitched the idea in season six and actually got two offers but couldn't decide which to go for and so ended up leaving without a deal.


Dragons' Den, UK: Kymera Magic Wand


Chris Barnardo and Richard Blakesley enchanted the UK Dragons with their Hogwarts-worthy Magic Wand universal remote control, which has gone down in Dragons' Den history as one of the show's most unique and successful products. After sparking a bidding war that was won by Scottish entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne, the enterprising pair conjured up a $261,000 investment for 30% of the business and their spellbinding gizmo has gone on to gross millions.


Shark Tank, USA: Ionic Ear


Inventor Darrin Johnson thought he'd snag a $1 million investment in exchange for 15% equity when he presented his Ionic Ear contraption to the Sharks in the very first episode of the show. A Bluetooth device that is surgically implanted in the user's ear, the gadget was described by Shark Barbara Corcoran as “the weirdest damn thing I've ever heard."


Dragons' Den, UK: Trunki


The ride-on suitcase for kids that has conquered the world, Trunki was actually rejected by the Dragons – inventor Rob Law's season three pitch ended in disaster when retail magnate Theo Paphitis broke the strap on the prototype and Peter Jones called the product “worthless." More fool them. The case has gone on to sell in the millions and is now a familiar sight in airports around the world.


Shark Tank, USA: Drive Suits


Turning humans into Transformers, Californian innovator Drew Beaumier presented his madcap wearable car concept to the Sharks in season four. Capable of speeds of up to 12 MPH, the robot suits come in several versions, from the motorcycle to the monster truck. Beaumier landed $150,000 in exchange for 20% equity, but the deal fell apart before the show aired for unknown reasons.

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Finance Magazine: The world's most unusual TV business pitches
The world's most unusual TV business pitches
Shows like Shark Tank and Dragons' Den have given airtime to entrepreneurs with the most unusual ideas imaginable from the absolute genius to the downright bizarre, and while some of these quirky concepts have gone nowhere, others have won serious investment cash and become overnight sensations.
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